Categories: Historical and Systematic Essays (Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, Volume 41)

Michael Gorman
Jonathan J. Sanford
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The essays in this volume, written by a mix of well-established and younger philosophers, bridge divides between historical and systematic approaches in philosophy as well divides between analytical, continental, and American traditions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2051-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xviii)

    It is impossible to think without using categories. Consider the judgment that the rose is red. To make this judgment, one must use the category “red” and assign the rose to it; one must also, per haps in a somewhat different way, make use of the category “rose.” And what is true here about judging that the rose is red is, mutatis mutandis, true about asserting it, which means that categories are needed for language as well. To be sure, there is more to thinking than judgment, even as there is more to speaking than assertion. But other mental and...


    • 1 Categories and Metaphysics: Aristotle’s Science of Being
      (pp. 3-20)

      The relationship between Aristotle’s Categories and his Metaphysics is a matter of some debate. If one assumes that the Categories is fundamentally a metaphysical work, then there appear to be irreconcilable differences between the notion of substance presented in the Categories and that presented in Metaphysics Z (VII). The Categories account of substance does not present matter as a component of hylomorphic substance, nor does it consider substance as a formal cause of unity , both of which are key ideas of Metaphysics Z (VII). The Metaphysics therefore represents a break with Aristotle’s older metaphysical scheme.¹ On the other hand,...

    • 2 Aristotle’s Categories “Where” and “When”
      (pp. 21-32)

      The word “category” itself comes from the verb καταγορϵύω, meaning “to denounce,” “to accuse,” or, as we shall see in Aristotle, “to be predicated.” In his entr y “Categories” in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Manley Thompson turns first to “Aristotelian Theo y” and asserts:

      The word “category” was first used as a technical term in philosophy by Aristotle. In his short treatise called Categories, he held that every uncombined expression signifies (denotes, refers to) one or more things falling in at least on of the following ten classes: substance, quantity , quality, relation, place, time, posture, state, action, and passion.¹...

    • 3 Aquinas’s Metaphysics: Individuation and Constitution
      (pp. 33-44)

      This essay examines some features of what might be called “Aquinas’s theory of things.” This is not the same as his ontology or his theory of what there is in the world, since he supposed that being—what there is—is spread over all the ten Aristotelian categories and not just the category of substance, which includes things. It is not the same as his theory of substance either, however, since it is arguable that not everything Aquinas recognized as a thing counts for him as a substance.¹ For purposes of this essay, I will take things to include not...

    • 4 Reflections on Some Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Views of the Categories
      (pp. 45-57)

      For about f fteen hundred years the dominant categorial scheme in Western thought was that of Aristotle, and especially in the Middle Ages it was taken quite seriously. What I would like to focus on here is a period of roughly seventy-five years, from the mid-thirteenth centu y to the early fourteenth century, when there emerged challenges to what I call the “standard” medieval position on the categories.¹ The standard position numbered Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus² among its advocates, and its tenets are: ( 1) there are ten and only ten categories; ( 2) they exhaust the sense of...

    • 5 Categories and Commensurability in Confucius and Aristotle: A Response to MacIntyre
      (pp. 58-78)
      MAY SIM

      Alasdair MacIntyre argues, in “Incommensurability , Truth, and the Conversation between Confucians and Aristotelians about the Virtues,” that despite certain agreements about the virtues, Confucian and Aristotelian traditions are ultimately incommensurable. ¹ By this MacIntyre means that each of these systems “has its own standard and measures of interpretation, explanation, and justification internal to itself,” so tha when dealing with rival claims there are “no shared standards and measures, external to both systems and neutral between them, to which appeal might be made to adjudicate between” them. ² For instance, a Confucian may notice that an act of giving fails...


    • 6 Kant: The Practical Categories
      (pp. 81-96)

      Perhaps no thinker since Aristotle devoted as much attention to the concept and use of categories than did Immanuel Kant. For Aristotle, the categories stand at the nexus of our knowledge of the world and the being of the world; they represent the primar y predicates according to which a being is said to be what it is in itself. ¹ Although Kant would seem to owe elements of his basic list of categories to Aristotle, his intentions in the employment of that list is, if anything, anti-Aristotelian. The relevance of Kantian categories is not metaphysical but solely epistemological and...

    • 7 Charles Peirce’s Categories, Phenomenological and Ontological
      (pp. 97-117)

      Philosophical categories are necessar y conditions of intelligibility. Charles Peirce proposes three such conditions—a short list when compared with the long lists proposed by Aristotle and Kant. The short list applies to the most fundamental, pervasive, or universal features identifiable in any phenomenon, whether the phenomenon is regarded as real, actual, f ctitious, or as any kind of subjective experience.

      In addition to his so-called pragmatism, Peirce’s three categories are probably relatively familiar. If they are known by name, they are usually known as Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, or the monad, the dyad, and the triad. These terms reflect...

    • 8 Husserl and the Categories
      (pp. 118-135)

      In Chapter 5 of this volume, May Sim explains that whereas Aristotle gives us a complete list of ten categories, Confucius provides no such list. Husserl does not give us any complete list of categories, either, but we can draw together from his various writings a long list of kinds of categories.

      noematic pure grammatical

      noetic analytic syntactical

      eidetic logical signification

      ontological formal analytic categories

      ontic formal logical object-categories

      material formal ontological apprehensional

      regional formal objectual categories

      This list is not complete, but it is already quite long and may appear utterly confusing. It may remind one of a “certain...

    • 9 Language-Games as Categories: An Aristotelian Theme in Wittgenstein’s Later Thought
      (pp. 136-148)

      Aristotle and Kant agree that the species of predicates (or concepts) go hand in hand with the species of predications (or judgments). Why these two classifications go hand in hand is not, in either case, a matte of empirical discovery but has to do instead with the ver y nature of the project. The project, in Aristotle’ s terms, in one of making sense of “things that are said.”¹ In Kant’s terms it is how judgments are possible, a judgment being in the first instance the determination that an objec falls under a concept, that is, how a concept can...


    • 10 Categories and Normativity
      (pp. 151-170)

      Anyone who tries to understand categories soon runs into the problem of giving an account of the unity of a categor y. Call this the “unity problem.” In this essay I describe a distinctive and under -studied version of the unity problem and discuss how it might be solved.

      First, I describe various versions of the unity problem. Second, I focus on one version and argue that it is best dealt with by thinking of at least some categories as “norm-constituted,” in a sense that I tr y to make clear. Third, I discuss some objections to my proposal. Fourth,...

    • 11 Categorial Form
      (pp. 171-182)

      Philosophic inquiry was once dominated by two linked questions: What are the categorial features of reality? What moral difference do they make? Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Mar x, and social Dar winists answered that human character , actions, laws, and virtues are properly sensitive to our nature and circumstances. Skeptics challenged this link: what do we know of the external world and its constraining effects? Idealism (the skeptics’ heir) shrinks the ambient world to the luminous space where individual minds create thinkable experiences. It says that freedom from material constraints entails our power to choose the rules that limit action. This...


    • 12 Distinction, Judgment, and Discipline
      (pp. 185-203)

      Philosophers in the analytic tradition insist upon a distinction between knowledge and fact, normally as follows: knowledge is something held by a subject of some sort, and fact is—well, it stands on its own feet, without a fact-finde , subject, or “obser ver” to thank for its existence. Thus facts owe no ontological debt to second parties whose movements bring about the existence of facts. Whilst knowledge comes out as fundamentally a relation—one that holds between a knower and an object of knowledge. So, first in time we (in the est) distinguish—we say that this is not...

    • 13 Categorial Intentions and Objects
      (pp. 204-224)

      Some kinds of intentionality are rather colorful and concrete, for example, imagination, picturing, and memory. Here we will discuss a kind of intentionality that is more austere and more purely rational. W e will examine what phenomenology calls categorial intentionality. This is the kind of intending that articulates states of affairs and propositions, the kind that functions when we predicate, relate, collect, and introduce logical operations into what we experience. We will examine the difference, for example, between simply intending an object and making a judgment about that object.

      We recall that the word “categorial” is related to the Greek...

    • 14 Carving Up Reality
      (pp. 225-237)

      Think of Mont Blanc, with its rabbits and foothills and its slurries of moistened rock. We can carve up the reality around Mont Blanc in different ways. If we are hunters, we might include rabbits as parts of the mountain; if we are geologists we might include only rock, per haps together with a certain amount of air in the crevices and tunnels that have been formed beneath the mountain sur face. If we are soil chemists we might include also a surrounding thin layer of organic matter; if we are skiers, we will want some snow; and if we...

    • 15 The Generation and Destruction of Categories
      (pp. 238-267)

      Philosophers often behave like aboriginal peoples who count, “one, two, three, four, five, man .” Quite a few count, “one, two, many .” Dialectical sophisticates take pride in reckoning “one, two, three, many.” Contemporary thinkers arrive at indefinite multiplicities with alarmin speed. Some philosophers of knowledge observe a couple of large revolutions and project indef nitely forward the enumeration of epistemic overturns. Some philosophers of language obser ve a handful of discursive functions and conclude that since there are not one or two, there must be countless kinds of language—think of Wittgenstein, who celebrates not only a multiplicity but...

    • 16 Are Categories Invented or Discovered? A Response to Foucault
      (pp. 268-284)

      Sometimes the philosopher is allowed a certain latitude to explore and perhaps even to preach, rather than to present a completely worked out position. So I am going to do a bit of both. My chapter and verse is a passage from the preface to Foucault’s The Order of Things, in which he argues that categories are a matter of invention.¹ This text has had an enormous impact on the issue I wish to address here, and in many ways has helped to def ne it and to establish as def nitive, in the minds of many of our contemporaries,...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-294)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 295-298)
  10. Author Index
    (pp. 299-302)
  11. Subject Index
    (pp. 303-309)